View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11th in the Emirates and the Message of Peace

Remembering the Heroes
Today I reacted strongly to a Facebook Status Update that began: “Let us remember the Fallen Heroes and the Thousands who died at the hands of the Muslim Terrorists…”

‘It’s Only Words’
I wrote to my new Facebook Friend saying that I was joining him in remembering the heroes but I asked him whether he would use the term ‘Christian Terrorists’ if the doers of evil had Christian allegiances.

Evil in the Name of Religion
It appears that the 9/11 attacks originated from al-Quaeda which states that it is the God-given duty of every Muslim to kill Americans everywhere. Furthermore, after the horrors of that day in the US, video footage circulated around the world showing some Palestinians celebrating these acts of terror.

But overwhelmingly Muslim organizations in the USA and around the world condemned the attacks of 9/11 and they contributed their skills and resources to help alleviate the sufferings and the loss of those affected.

Unhelpful Stereotyping
Following the events of 9/11 numerous incidents of harassment, attacks on mosques and hate crimes were waged on Muslims around the world and people of ‘Middle Eastern’ appearance.

The repeated coupling by the media of the words, ‘Muslim terrorists’ has perpetuated the stereotype that Islam is a religion of terror and that all Muslims are people of hate and therefore to be feared.

I am grateful to be living in the UAE and to count many Muslims as my friends. Far from celebrating the ongoing hurt of thousands of Americans on a day like this, the understanding of their faith leads them to be concerned and to demonstrate a practical commitment to peace-making.

Day for Perspective
The constant replays of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the rescue scenes that followed have etched this event into our minds forever. We do not want to forget this day. The power of the media, however, has led to a loss of perspective.

September 11 was already a day for remembering the coup d'état that occurred in Chile in 1973 when President Allende died. In the months and years that followed, thousands of Chileans who were seen to resist the dictatorial regime simply disappeared. The tragedy on this 9/11 in 1973 and the ongoing pain have been overshadowed by the 9/11 of 2001 but both events should be remembered and honored as the stimulus for acts of freedom, justice and peace.

Day for Peace
This day in the Emirates is not only a time for remembering the events in Chile and the United States but resolving to work for peace wherever we live. This may be as simple and as practical as conveying a message of sympathy to a friend in America or Chile.

Peace/salaam is an active word that involves taking the initiative in reaching out to people just as we actively make our greeting—As-Salāmu `Alaykum or as we intentionally respond—`Alaykum As-Salaam.

Peace/salaam is an all-encompassing word with rich personal, social, spiritual and environmental dimensions. It is about personal wellbeing but it works at righting relationships, restoring unity among families and groups and fostering healthy ties between nations, cultures and people who are different from us.

On this memorable day, let us say As-Salāmu `Alaykum, Paz, Shalom, Pace, Paix, Pax and Peace in every language—to the people of Chile, the United States of America and to all countries, including people here in the Emirates.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “Let us say As-Salāmu `Alaykum, Paz, Shalom, Pace, Paix, Pax, Peace and in every language.”